AN 1: I honestly didn't expect to get this far in this story so I'm running out of prompts (^~^); Please submit more prompt ideas before my muse completely fizzles out! I have maybe two more chapters written before I go on hiatus again...
AN 2: I have no idea when McCoy's birthday is so I made it up
Harriet was on her back, looking up at the sky and quietly contemplating her life, when a vague memory of an old, long lived male, confiding in her surfaced in her mind:
"I am tired. So tired. I will be truly greatly relieved when I might rely on a failing memory. The past will be as a blank. Later, later, latest, too late."
She remembered the words well enough but did not remember the name or the place or the time or even the name she had carried in that reality. Was she beginning to lose sight of the past? The details?
Yes, it was inevitable that they would eventually pass; she didn't have Spock's impeccable memory. But even if she did, how long would it be until the past truly became nothing more than a blur of impressions and long forgotten sensations? How tired was too tired? How long before it was too late to regain those edges of her humanity that had been worn down with age and experience?
A cloud passed overhead as Harriet idly considered what followed that series of questions: Was it correct to say she was human? At what point had that become a question worth considering? At what point had she stopped doubting the nature of her own existence in order to stifle the pain, the longing?
Did that pain still exist? Did she still long for something that she had near forgotten, for the things that only remained as hazy ideas and fuzzy images and feelings of loss? What did she long for? Did she long for anything?
Well, yes, she did but how did one define a normal life when what passed for normal was generally considered just this side of outright absurd? Should she start setting goals and aspirations again if the possibility of success could so easily be ripped from her? Did she dare hope that this time, just this once, she could live out a full life? What was a full life? Why was she even considering this?
The fact that she could consider any of these questions so dispassionately was its own indication of how she felt about it all. She should perhaps approach the whole thing from a different angle but couldn't quite remember how to think of it in terms of wants and needs and passionate arguments for or against.
She blinked again.
It was, in fact, one of those things that made Spock's companionship so … refreshing? reassuring? familiar perhaps? Because his difficulty in distinguishing his emotional responses and reconciling them with the Vulcan mindset of logic reminded her of her own difficulties? There were parallels when you compared it to how difficult it had become to identify her own deeper emotions when she had long since learned logic dictated she not delve too deeply into them, that she not become too attached to them.
Yet somehow things had changed. They were subtle changes: the familiarity she felt in this existence, her willingness to even consider making a long term investment in people, and the very feel of Death's magic thrumming through her veins like an old but somehow increasingly distant friend. But they were changes, changes she couldn't decide on how to approach; something drove her to stir the depths of her memory for the possibilities those changes presented and she was becoming increasingly indecisive.
Was she tired, so tired, that the past would soon become a blank? Was she so tired, too tired, that considering these questions was simply the latest symptom of her old age? Or were they simply an indication that if she did not find answers for them soon, she would be too tired, too late?
She blinked faster this time.
Was she too late to save her own humanity?
(she wouldn't cry, she wouldn't)
It wasn't too long after the end of the fall semester that Harriet finally got around to properly considering what it would mean to become a Starfleet civilian.
"And, what, per se, would this position entail?"
"The medical and counseling department is responsible for the mental and physical health of the crew, from running annual physicals to combatting strange plagues that afflict the crew to helping a crew member dealing with the loss of a loved one. As a civilian doctor, you will help the medical officers onboard in examining the crew, administering medical care under the instruction of the Chief and Assistant Chief Medical Officers, and any other medical area that may need assistance. In addition, per our agreement, you will be serving as a diplomatic contact for any other members of your community."
Harriet gave the Admiral a bland look. If 'her people' were around, she'd certainly seen no evidence of it. "And the guarantee that I will be able to pick my assignment?"
He leaned back in his chair. "It was my impression that you wanted to be stationed alongside Commander Spock."
"If I choose to do so, I will. If I choose otherwise, then I will find another posting that fits my needs."
The Admiral considered her briefly. She honestly still had no intention of remembering the man's name but for Pike's sake she'd play nice enough.
"Your request will be considered. However, for now, you are being considered for the Enterprise crew, which will see its maiden voyage this summer under Captain Pike with Commander Spock as his First." She knew this already. "Do you have any additional questions?"
"Is there anything else that I should question?" Okay, so maybe her tone was a slight bit less than polite…
His lips formed a tight line. "I am certain we can work out any other details when you complete your paperwork, hopefully this month. Until then, your duties won't be officially established."
Harriet's face clearly stated she was unimpressed. "I'll be sure to take everything into consideration then. If that's all?"
"Yes, for now it is." He stood and Harriet and Pike copied the motion. "Ms. Luna, Captain Pike, good day."
Harriet nodded her head in acknowledgement, then led the way out of the office. Once the door was firmly shut behind them, Harriet fell in step with Pike. He glanced quickly at her but otherwise remained silent until they were down the hall.
"Is there anything in particular that you wanted to discuss Ms. Luna?"
"I want to know exactly what your expectations are Captain."
He briefly considered her statement without breaking his stride. "The Enterprise's mission is primarily exploratory in nature. In addition to your efforts in medical, I expect that you would aide in our efforts as well."
"And what efforts do you expect me to make Captain? I will state it very clearly now that I will not be pushed to extend myself, my knowledge, or my connections for an endeavor that I do not approve of."
"Does that mean you will not care for your patients as required because they are involved in that effort?"
"Normally, no. That does not mean however that I will treat mass murders, those who commit atrocities, or those that find it is their time to pass."
Pike's brow furrowed but his tone remained neutral. "That last is a rather interesting exception. I was under the impression you made a living helping others extend their lives."
"I do but there is a difference between extending a helping hand or offering hope and out right cheating death."
"You're implying that you could."
"I'm stating that I won't." Harriet abruptly turned off down a corridor, causing the Captain to pause and look at his departing companion.
"Good day, Capitan."
Spock and Hari, were, as she would say, 'enjoying' each other's company at her house. He was personally rather fascinated with her dwelling space. The near complete lack of technology she employed outside of her kitchen continued to pique his interest. He had brought the matter up several times but she had simply shrugged it off, stating something to the effect that she and technology 'had a healthy respect for each other. Why upset the balance?'
Given that she engaged in other technological advances both at the Academy and in her medical practice, he didn't follow her reasoning. He also didn't understand how she remained capable of both understanding and employing advanced medical technology when she made no visible effort to attend classes or seminars that covered the topic. This had not allayed his suspicions about the exact nature or extent of her abilities.
He had intended to pursue that point further with her but then he had discovered the contents of her rather extensive library. It bothered him that he didn't know how she had obtained so many physical books on modern topics. Naturally, he had researched the availability of such services but had found very few retailers that didn't specifically specialize in obtaining rare books or classic literature. He had methodically inquired about this point as well. In response, she had snorted and waved it off with an invitation to peruse the shelves as he saw fit.
What he found upon doing so was both enlightening and commendable. The topics varied greatly, presenting opportunities to study modern and early twenty-first century history, a variety of compendiums on the evolution of medical science across races, books on advanced mathematics and scientific theory, and annotated essays on the cultural advancement of Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites. It was therefore entirely feasible her library also included technological works that he had yet to discover.
Even if it didn't, the library made the days when they 'stayed in' and didn't have much to discuss both well spent and, if he was honest, rather … enjoyable.
Today had been another productive but quiet day spent reading and sipping beverages but eventually, the time he had allotted for their meeting came to an end. He had just finished exchanging parting words with Hari and was on his way to her front door when she appeared to suddenly remember something.
"O, Spocky, I forgot. I can't meet with you this Wednesday; I have a study date with McCoy."
A study date? Spock was familiar with the idea of studying with others to reinforce advanced understanding of a given topic. He also understood that the word 'date' had several meanings. However, he was not sure how Hari was employing the term. It was possible she was using the word to indicate a specific day for an activity. But it was equally possible that she was using it in the way employed by Terrans to indicate a social interaction that, strangely, both precluded and indicated a state of courtship between two entities.
He supposed the meaning of the phrase thus depended on how the word 'study' was being used. In this sense, was it being used as a descriptor for the nature of the 'date' that would occur? As he had not heard the two words used to indicate a single activity before, he wasn't sure.
He was also uncertain why he was vaguely bothered by the idea.
And when had calling Harriet 'Hari,' if only in his mind, become more natural?
"I believe it is appropriate at this point to enquire after the origins of your name."
Harriet raised an eyebrow. "Please explain your inquiry further."
"The question implied was quite clear."
Harriet snorted. "I'm sure it's equally clear that you're already aware of its etymology."
"Yes but I am not inquiring after the etymology and you are aware of that."
Harriet stopped their amble through Presidio Park and considered him silently for a time. Then, without a word, she began walking again. Spock just as quietly kept pace, arms still clasped loosely behind his back.
"My name is my name Spock, just as your name is Spock."
Spock's face took on a mild look of concentration as they continued their sedate walk through the park. Then his face evened out as he came to a realization.
"My name has long been Spock."
Harriet's only reply was to hum as she stopped to consider a particularly colorful flowerbed.
As she began to move on, he added: "however, it is true that it does not include my lineal name."
"Are you then deceiving others by not sharing that knowledge?"
"It is generally considered unpronounceable by humans."
Harriet looked up, noting the aerial transport vehicles (ATVs! Ha!) flying by on the outskirts of the park. "Does that make me inhuman for likely being able to pronounce it?"
"That is not the question that I asked."
Harriet gave Spock a small smile. "The ideas are related Spock. I have many names that I share or do not share because I am many different things to many different people. Who are you, one who does not even attempt to share your full name with others, to question me on this matter?"
"You are employing a form of false equivalency. There is a difference between not sharing a portion of a name that generally cannot be pronounced and sharing a name that is in and of itself false."
"Who says that it's false? My name has also long been Harriet and I am as much Harriet Luna as any other name I might give you."
"But it is not the name you were born with."
Harriet's shoulders tensed briefly, then she sighed, letting the tension flow out of her body. "No, it's not." She subconsciously ran her hand over the bushes they were passing, lost in old memories. "No, it's not," she whispered.
Spock, noting the change in both tone and volume, turned to consider her face. Taking in her distant expression, he refocused on their path and waited till they had progressed to the three quarters mark on the path before he continued.
"Is there a particular reason you do not use your birth name?"
Harriet huffed and gave him a wry smile at his persistence. "I have many names and titles Spock, each with their own origins and meanings, most with a history just as long as the others."
They were nearing the end of the trail when she spoke again. "I suppose another of your questions is along the lines of why I settled on Harriet Luna?"
It took a moment for her to respond but the point was that she did eventually respond. "To honor the memory of a friend," she admitted quietly.
As they made for the exit of the park, Spock chose to ask only one more question. "If you do not mind, I would like to know how long you have been honoring that friend."
Harriet's face formed a small smile. "It's generally not considered polite to ask a woman her age Spock." Then her smile turned sad and she once more lost herself in her memories.
It wasn't until Spock's hover car arrived at her home, and she was getting out of the car, that she answered his question.
"Altogether? About 141 years. And it's Potter."
Then, she shut the door and entered her home, leaving Spock to sit quietly in mild shock.
"Happy Birthday!" Harriet was practically bouncing on her toes in her excitement as she passed McCoy a festively wrapped box. "Open it!"
"How the hell did you even know it was my birthday?" he grumbled. "And why's the wrapping paper so bright?" [He has a point. I mean, it does have pink kittens on it…]
Harriet's eyes began to twinkle in mischief as her smile broadened. "I have my ways and the paper's pretty. Besides, a man that can hold pretty, 'girly' things is a man who has self confidence." She rubbed her hands together, causing her fruit shaped earrings [actual fruit, mind you] to stop their circular movement and to start swinging back and forth instead. "Now open it! I want to see how you like it!"
McCoy eyed the small wrapped package suspiciously. "Should I be concerned?"
"Of course!" [If I had a face, I'd plant it.]
"That doesn't make me want to open it any faster. In fact, I'm starting to think I shouldn't."
Harriet rolled her eyes. "I promise nothing will jump out at you and that it's perfectly safe." [Still concerned? Yes, definitely.]
Eyeing her wearily, he began carefully unwrapping the gift. He then eyed the innocent looking baby blue box within and graced her with a look. "So help me –"
She sighed dramatically, letting her hands fall equally dramatically to her sides. "O come on, I already promised."
Reluctantly, he took the lid off the box, simultaneously grumping: "just tell me what the hell it is already."
As he took a look into the open box, she let out an excited: "Bones!"
He looked up with slight annoyance. "What woman? I'm already talking to you! And I asked a question." Wait, those looked suspiciously like…
Harriet laughed, enjoying the way his face was slowing transforming into a look of mortified disbelief. "No, really, they're called Bones!" Harriet couldn't stop her wide smile. "You play them." She added in another toe bounce for good measure before snatching up the box. "Look, watch."
She removed two of the four rib bones from the black silk padding in the innocent little box. Then, she placed a bone each between her pointer, middle finger, and ring finger, and squeezed the smoothly shaved pieces closest to her thumb into her palm. Moving her wrist back and forth, the tighter 'bone' struck the other, looser 'bone' in a steady rhythm.
Bones, clearly torn between mild disgust and disbelief, finally vocalized a slightly strangled: "Good god woman! Are those actual bones?!"
"Yea, a pair of rib bones."
McCoy simply didn't know what to say.
Harriet laughed. "Your face! Ha!" Her laughing settled into a fit of giggles. "Ha! no!" She waved a hand dismissively in front of her face. "They're wooden replicas, although about four hundred years or so ago they did use actual animal rib bones or parts of the femur bone to make them."
McCoy simply didn't know what to say.
[If Spock got you feeling all depressed, you could have just said so. He would've listened.]
"Out of curiosity, where does the name Smaug come from?"
"You've been awfully curious about names of late Spock."
"I am finding them increasingly pertinent."
"And I am finding your questions increasingly uncomfortable."
"That is not my intention. I simply wish to … get to know you better."
She gave Spock a small smile. "Somehow, I do not think you intended to create a double entendre."
His brow furrowed ('always so well groomed… does he pluck?'). "I do not believe my words can be taken any other way than as they were intended."
Her smile became more genuine as she shook her head slightly. "Keep telling yourself that Spocky." 'Merlin, I love watching him puzzle through the concept of emotions and vaguely romantic overtones.' She sipped her double ristretto, noting and appreciating its bolder, fuller body. She was really glad she'd convinced Mrs. Thurston to invest in a set of demitasse; it completed the overall experience. 'O look, they're almost furrowed now!'
"You are attempting to change the topic."
"Yes and it is not necessarily polite to point that out."
"I have been told that at this point candor is more appropriate."
"At what point?"
Spock stopped to consider his answer. "I believe we know each other well enough to be direct."
"Yet I at least do not always appreciate directness."
"Can friends not easily discuss things between them?"
Harriet raised an eyebrow of her own. "Then you are finally acknowledging that we are close?" Was she finally acknowledging their interactions indicated a level of closeness that perhaps extended beyond friendship?
[why are the two of you so dense!?]
"Our relationship has not been strictly professional for some time."
"It has certainly developed well beyond that point, yes." She took another sip of her drink, lids closing ever so slightly as she once more savored the taste.
"Likewise, I understand that our … experiment … is no longer strictly scientific in nature and has also not been for some time."
Returning her demitasse to its saucer, she gave Spock another small, amused smile. "And who helped you come to these conclusions?" Sitting back in her seat, she gave Spock enough time to look vaguely uncomfortable before she continued, eyes laughing. "Yes, I think at this point we have at the very least quite firmly established a close relationship." Was it something more?
"Is it not appropriate then for us to seek a deeper knowledge of each other?"
"How deep are we talking Spock? We are already quite close. In fact, I believe I know you better than the majority of your acquaintances bar your parents." His lips turned down slightly at the corners. 'The Spocky thinking face is just so cute!' ('wait, what?!')
"We have spent… a lot time with each other."
"Indeed, we have." Ignoring that part of her that was attempting to hyperventilate was probably for the best. [so help me …] She took a fortifying sip of her ristretto.
The frown became more pronounced. 'At least he's getting just as uncomfortable as I am.' "Are you attempting to define our relationship as something more than friendship?"
She froze, demitasse half way to her lips. That part of her that she denied was panicking made itself more pronounced. [I wonder why?] Instead of acknowledging it however, she hurriedly took a somewhat longer sip than she had intended and coughed, eyes turning toward the window.
"Smaug is the name of a fire drake whose aftermath I once had the pleasure of becoming intimate with."
AN 3: The quote at the beginning comes from an episode of the original series that I now can't find, otherwise I'd give it due credit.
AN 4: I'm trying to portray a Spock that is gradually changing due to his interactions with Harriet while trying to portray a Spock that's rubbing off on Harriet. How's it going?
AN 5: The Bones are a real instrument and have been for over a hundred years. Slightly strange to the modern individual but just as valid an instrument in jazz and folk bands as the washboard.
AN 6: Yes, they're essentially dating already but Spock's too new to the idea to realize it without outside help and Harriet's too afraid of forming attachments to properly deal with it.
Prompt: Playing the Bones (partial fill for Whisper May); Hari joins a study group and says she has a "study date" to Spock, who, unfamiliar with the term, finds himself strangely bothered (fill for PerfectionJune)